The ex-Stamford Bridge centre-back laments defensive problems and urges Fernando Torres to justify his record-breaking price tag when the £50m Spaniard faces old club Liverpool
By Rob Stewart
Former Chelsea centre-back Michael Duberry believes that his old team go into their crunch game with Liverpool looking vulnerable as the Blues struggle to “find their identity” under manager Andre Villas-Boas.
Duberry believes that Villas-Boas’ failure to find a regular partner for John Terry in the heart of the Chelsea back four and the shortcomings of Jose Bosingwa have left the Stamford Bridge side looking weak in defence.
Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s match with Liverpool at the Bridge on Sunday, Duberry expressed concern at Villas-Boas’ failure to shore up his team’s defence since arriving from Porto last summer
“I don’t think the Chelsea defence was as solid as it once was. They haven’t found a solid central defensive combination and they have lost their old routines so there is vulnerability about them,” Duberry told Goal.com.
“I still think they are finding their identity. They are trying to get away from the managers of the past and the manager is still trying to put his own stamp on the club in terms of the way they are set up and the way they look. He is still finding his feet so there are teething problems for Chelsea because they are playing a more expansive game than they have in recent years.”
Duberry, who came through the ranks at Chelsea - where he made 115 Chelsea appearances - and is now playing for League Two side Oxford United, believes that Brazilian defender Alex should play alongside Terry but still has misgivings about Bosingwa and his place in a defence that has already conceded 15 goals this season compared to 33 throughout the last campaign.
“I put Chelsea as favourites but with Luis Suarez in the Liverpool attack there are goals in their team so it is a game where there could be plenty of goals because defensively Chelsea have not found their solid back four or a partner for JT,” Duberry added.
Centre of attention l Terry & Co are struggling to get to grips with rivals“I would go for JT and Alex because he is a solid defender who is hard to beat and has a thunderbolt of a free-kick and he works well with JT. He would be my preference with JT.
“I always want my full-backs to be able to defend first and foremost. Ashley Cole gives you plenty both ways. He is the crème de la crème – one of the best left-backs in the world if not the best.
“I always feel that Bosingwa is not a solid right-back. Going forward he looks the business but defensively he looks vulnerable. A lot of their goals have come about with sides exposing weakness on the right flank.”
Chelsea striker Fernando Torres will be up against his former team-mates and Duberry is hoping that invigorates the Spaniard.
“There is a lot of pressure and I am sure that he can deal with it and hopefully he will thrive under it,” Duberry continued.
“This might be the game that sparks him. He will get a lot of abuse from Liverpool fans who will never forgive him for leaving Anfield and he will be under pressure from Chelsea fans who are willing him to do well and show the Liverpool fans that they have got a better Torres than you have.
“Fernando Torres is settling in but at £50 million you want him to settle in after his first game. That is an easy thing to say but you would want him to make a quick start to his Chelsea career with two or three goals to put the fire in his belly or the wind in his sails or whatever you want to call it.
“I am sure that every Chelsea fan will want him to kick on because the transfer tag around his neck means that he should have been firing on all cylinders as soon as he turned up at Stamford Bridge. But for whatever reason he didn’t and people want him to start firing soon.”
The 36-year-old Duberry, who also played for Leeds, Reading and Stoke, is expecting fourth-placed Chelsea to get the better of the Anfield club who won 1-0 in the corresponding fixture last season.
“Liverpool are not flying as high as they were at the start of the season when everyone was talking about Kenny getting them going and that they were Championship contenders and all that sort of stuff,” Duberry added.
“Whenever a new manager comes in everyone is on a high. They are buzzing but when things start to level out you find out what you are really at. Don’t get me wrong, Liverpool are a better team than they once were but now they are still not on that high of when Kenny took over. I think Chelsea will have a bit too much for Liverpool. I'd go for Chelsea to win 3-1.”